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“That Loveliest of Lakes” -  Alfred Wainwright and Ullswater

Alfred Wainwright described Ullswater as “that loveliest of lakes, curving gracefully into the far distance”. Soon a Sitting Stone, carved with Wainwright’s words and located below Arthur’s Pike will invite walkers on the Ullswater Way to pause, sit a while and take in the beautiful form of this “loveliest of lakes”.

Wainwright’s special connections with Ullswater

Alfred Wainwright’s association with the Ullswater valley began on his first visit to the Lake District in 1930 and continued for the rest of his life. Aged 23, he came on a week’s holiday with his cousin at Whitsuntide 1930. They spent the first night in Windermere and the next day they walked along the old Roman road of High Street descending to Ullswater at Howtown and continued on to Pooley Bridge.

In 1941 Wainwright obtained a post as an accountancy assistant at Kendal and moved to the Lake District. The following year, Wainwright and his family stayed in Patterdale at Ullswater View (now Old Water View).

In 1952, Wainwright began work on the first of his Pictorial Guides, The Eastern Fells, followed in 1954 with The Far Eastern Fells. Both these guides involved many visits to Patterdale and Glenridding. In both guides Wainwright extolled the virtues of the views of Ullswater from the surrounding fells. Ullswater was a favourite subject for his sketches and he included a number in the first two Pictorial Guides.

Patterdale post office was the first place he sold his books.  In 1955 he took copies of his newly-published book, The Eastern Fells to the shop and asked the then owner, Mr Dawson, if he would be willing to sell the book. In Wainwright in the Valleys of Lakeland, he wrote: ‘I have a soft spot for the post office, this being the first shop to offer to sell copies of my first guidebook to the fells: an order for six was repeated within a week, a cause of much inward rejoicing and relief since I had incurred a debt of £900 with a local printer.’              

He admitted at the end of Book 2 that he would be sad to be leaving this area. He wrote: ‘it is a weakness of mine to be for ever looking back, and often I shall reflect on the haunting loneliness of High Street and the supreme loveliness of Ullswater.’

In the 1970s, he devised the Coast to Coast Walk from St. Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay. The route through the Lake District included a visit to Patterdale and wrote: ‘Patterdale is a rival to Borrowdale in the magnificence of its surroundings. Dominated on one side by … Helvellyn and on the other by the steep flanks of Place Fell, with, between them, that loveliest of lakes, Ullswater curving gracefully into the far distance …’

He loved Ullswater and declared in his final book that Ullswater was ‘the most beautiful of the lakes.’ He particularly loved the lakeside walk from Sandwick to Patterdale writing in The Far Eastern Fells: ‘It is the author’s opinion that the Lakeside path from Scalehow Beck, near Sandwick, to Patterdale (in that direction) is the most beautiful and rewarding walk in Lakeland.’  

By Derek Cockell, Secretary of The Wainwright Society


With thanks to our sponsors and supporters

The Wainwright Society

Ullswater Preservation Society

Dalemain Estates

William Coulston and Dick Young

Gay and Bill Parkin

Creating the Wainwright Sitting Stone

The Wainwright Sitting Stone was designed and created by Jimmy Reynolds, a local sculptor and letter carver. Wainwright’s words curve gracefully around an accurate outline of Ullswater itself.


WAINWRIGHT SITTING STONE  - GRID REF NY 462 214

Wainwrights Sitting Stone - Photo Credit © Anne Clarke Ullswater Way © The Estate of A. Wainwright, with permission from Frances Lincoln Ltd. from ‘Arthur’s Pike 3’ in The Far Eastern Fells © The Estate of A. Wainwright, with permission from Frances Lincoln Ltd.

© The Estate of A. Wainwright, with permission from Frances Lincoln Ltd.


from ‘Arthur’s Pike 3’ in The Far Eastern Fells © The Estate of A. Wainwright, with permission from Frances Lincoln Ltd.


Installing the Sitting Stone May 2017

Inaugurating the Sitting Stone

Inaugurating the Sitting Stone - Photo Credit Janet Wedgwood